A criminal courtroom is a serious place. Sometimes, the setting may seem more somber than is necessary, but, in most cases, the decisions being made will affect the lives of not only the defendant but his or her family as well. It is up to each judge to determine what types of behavior are and are not acceptable in his or her courtroom, and some are certainly more lenient than others. A recent example from Wayne County, Michigan, however, demonstrates the dangers of failing to act appropriately as the mother of a drunk driver was sent to jail by a judge whose patience had been tested enough.
The incident occurred during a sentencing hearing for a 25-year-old woman who had pled guilty to driving under the influence and causing death. The woman had been arrested in June following a DUI accident which killed one man and severely injured the man’s fiancée. She was back in the courtroom last month to receive her sentence and listen to impact statements from the victim’s family. The admitted drunk driver was in tears as the impact statements were being read, but the woman’s family members had a different reaction.
According to court records and multiple news outlets, Wayne County Circuit Judge Qiana Lillard interrupted the statements to deal with inappropriate behavior from individuals in the back row of the courtroom. Lillard called out one man for being “a clown,” as he “was sitting there smiling and laughing” while the deceased victim’s sister was speaking. She sent him out of the courtroom along with the driver’s mother saying, “You can go, too. This is a court of law, and these are very serious matters.”
Jail Time for Contempt
As the driver’s mother left the courtroom, she was heard talking back to the judge who ordered her to come back in so her behavior could be addressed. Lillard told the woman that she would be going to the Wayne County Jail for 93 days for direct criminal contempt. After spending a single night in jail, the woman was back before Judge Lillard the next morning with a humble attitude. She apologized to the judge, and Lillard cut the remainder of the woman’s sentence.
The drunk driver was sentenced to 3 to 15 years for her role in the fatal crash.
Speak to a Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you have been arrested for drunk driving or any other offense, an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney can assist you as you prepare for the proceedings. We understand that your courtroom behavior and that of your loved ones can leave a strong impression on the judge—and jury if your case goes to trial. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.